Amid Colombia's Violence, Gandhi's Ghost

Colombia’s “indigenous guard” is pursuing nonviolence as a means of enforcing justice for the country’s 92 tribal communities, according to The Dominion, an Canadian publication.

Hemmed in by violent drug trafficking, and conflict between government soldiers and rebels, around 1.5 million Indians are looking to confront kidnappings, murders and greed with unarmed confrontations and community-based reconciliation assemblies.

Rodrigo Dagua, leader of the Jambalo tribe, told the Los Angeles Times: “We forbid violence. All we have is the power to convene.”

In late November 2008, when seven villagers were kidnapped from Jambalo, in Southwest Colombia, hundreds of community members banded together, successfully found the hostages and freed them peacefully, despite the rebels’ threat of force, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The nonviolent assembly also apprehended four of the five kidnappers and delivered them to the Jambalo community, where they underwent a trial based on indigenous principles, and sentenced to 15 years in “rented” prisons, with parole possible after six years of good behavior.

The Times said the tribes maintain their pacifist stance in the face of constant threats and harassment from military and paramilitary troops, and from the Colombian government itself.

–Julia Hengst/


“Indigenous Justice in Colombia”
The Dominion, December 6, 2008

“Colombia Indians face down violence”
Los Angeles Times, January 11, 2009

One thought on “Amid Colombia's Violence, Gandhi's Ghost

  1. While i do think that the story told in this article is most definitely inspiring, i must protest the repeated use if the term ‘Indians’ used in reference to the indigenous people of Columbia. Tribespeople would be, if not correct, still, be a more appropriate term.